Home buying is not as simple as going to a property for sale and making an offer. It is a more complicated process than that, and you will need the expertise of a real estate agent to navigate it properly.
Finding a real estate agent can be troublesome if you do not know what you are doing. Fail to complete your due diligence, and you could hire someone unqualified.
Included in this article are tips for finding the best buying agent. Keep them in mind as you embark on your home buying process. Make the entire endeavor of buying a home significantly easier by partnering with the right agent.
What Is a Buying Agent?
Before we dive into the process of finding a real estate agent, let’s discuss why you need one in the first place.
To put it simply, a buyer’s agent is someone who will make the process of purchasing a home as easy as possible. Per this article from Quicken Loans, buyer’s agents have a legal obligation to protect the interests of home buyers. Look to them for continuing guidance as you go through the process of buying a home.
In terms of specific work, they can handle numerous tasks for you.
Enlist the help of a buying agent if you want to find listings within your desired location. Mention certain qualities you are looking for in a home so they can refine their findings for you.
Once you have found a property you like, your buying agent can talk to the real estate salesperson and schedule a visit. If things go well, your agent can also help you negotiate with the seller. They can even offer tips for making your offer more enticing.
Remember that the home buying process can be difficult and time-consuming. You will need all the help you can get, especially if this is your first time. Do not shy away from working with a buying agent because they can make an otherwise troublesome ordeal easier.
The Process of Finding a Buying Agent
Now that you know why partnering with a buying agent is important, we can get into the process of finding one. This will take quite a bit of work on your part, but it will be worth it with what a buying agent can do for you.
Without further ado, let’s start detailing the process of selecting a real estate agent for buying.
Seek Preapproval for a Mortgage
You are looking for an agent to help you land your dream home. So, why is it necessary to seek preapproval for a mortgage? That is probably the question bouncing around inside your head at this time.
There are two reasons why you should get preapproved for a mortgage before looking for a buying agent.
First off, seeking preapproval gives you a better idea of how much you can spend on your new home. After finding out how much you can borrow, you can now use that information to refine your search. You and your agent can look for properties within your specific price range.
Securing preapproval also conveys how serious a buyer you are. You need to show that so other agents give you more of their time and attention.
Lenders will look at your finances before they provide preapproval. Expect them to ask for your credit history, debt to income ratio, and a list of your assets and corresponding evidence.
In terms of documentation, they may ask for your accounts, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, your social security number, and documents that prove your identity. You will also need to submit the mortgage application itself.
Note that mortgage preapproval letters have expiration dates. They usually last for sixty to ninety days. If you are seeking preapproval, you should also plan to look for your new home not long after.
Look for Buying Agents
With preapproval out of the way, you can now start looking for a real estate salesperson. Assembling a list of candidates is a good idea, but how should you do that?
The first thing you can do in search of candidates is to look around your neighborhood. Look for any posted ads and use them to identify candidates. Go to the neighborhoods where there are available homes because you will likely find ads and even the agents there.
You can also go online to find buying agents. Check out local real estate groups on social media. You should find at least a few names there.
Obtain Referrals from People You Trust
Do you know a family member or friend who bought a house in the city you are planning to move to? In that case, they may help you find a buying agent.
Ask them to point you in the direction of reputable buying agents in that area. Better yet, ask them to link you directly to a trustworthy agent if they know one.
You do not need to hire the agent your friend or family member recommends. The information they provide will still be helpful if you add those new names to your list of candidates.
Research the Qualifications of Your Candidates
For the next step, you will need to conduct some research. To be more specific, you should look into the qualifications of the candidates you have identified.
Go online and see what people are saying about them. Use reference sites for real estate agents and check out any reviews. You can also look at the websites of specific candidates. While browsing those websites, look for the credentials that those agents list.
One specific credential you can look for is the Accredited Buyer’s Representative Designation. That is one specifically awarded to reputable buying agents.
Some other certifications and designations are worth looking for while researching your candidates. You can look them up using this reference provided by the National Association of Realtors.
Interview Your Candidates
You can develop an idea of who someone is by researching them, but that is not enough. Making the time to meet and interview your prospective agents in person is still important. Doing that is necessary if you want to check that they are the right person for the job.
Use this opportunity to determine your compatibility with the real estate agent. Ask them about their regular working hours and see if they match your schedule. You can also ask how well they know the particular market you are eyeing.
Feel free to ask questions about anything you think is important. Ask about their team if they have one or their experience. You can also ask how many deals they do annually to grasp how they approach their job.
Those questions should help you understand if you are talking to the person you want to hire.
This is also the right time for you to ask about the credentials of your candidates. Listen to what they have to say so you can gain a better grasp of their talents.
Talk to References Provided by Your Candidates
Earlier, we mentioned that you should research your candidates by looking online. It is good to learn about your candidates that way, but you are still not getting the complete picture. Ideally, you should also hear about how those candidates perform directly from the people who have already worked with them.
Request references from your candidates and then call them. Ask them about the experiences they had while working with your candidates. You can also directly ask the person you are speaking to if they enjoyed working with a specific buying agent.
The feedback provided by previous clients should give you great insight into your candidates. Take heed of what they say because their experiences could be accurate predictors of how things will go for you.
Finalize the Terms of the Contract
Hopefully, you find a qualified candidate. If you managed to identify the buying agent you want to work with, you now work on finalizing a contract with them. Be thorough when drawing up the agreement with your agent. List the responsibilities your buying agent must handle in that contract.
You should also indicate how much you will pay. Notably, the home seller is the one who usually pays the buying agent’s fee. If they want to change that arrangement, they can negotiate that with you later.
Do not forget about setting the length of the agreement while writing up that contract. As much as possible, you want to set the contract length to a few months at most.
Avoid locking yourself into a partnership with a buying agent for too long because the market can always change. You do not want to be stuck with a specific agent if the market is turning against them.
We at RI Home Store can be your buying agent if you plan to purchase a new property in Rhode Island. Reach out to us today and we will make sure to get you the listings and deals that match your preferences!